Concerns over southern port delays

29 Sep, 2011 08:00 AM
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JAMES Point Pty Ltd (JPPL) will send a letter to the WA Premier Colin Barnett explaining why they still deserve the right to proceed with the building and planning of the James Point Port.

Farm Weekly reported last week the State Government had sent a letter to JPPL earlier this month saying it had failed to complete the port as required by June 30, effectively ending its rights to the project.

It is believed JPPL could have a major damages claim against the State Government if they do not receive the rights to go ahead.

JPPL board of directors met last week where JPPL chair Chris Whitaker said the board had considered the latest advice from government and chosen to respond by the end of this week.

"The government gave us what they believed was the current state of affairs broadly with respect to the development of the port and its timelines," Mr Whitaker said.

"Directors have considered that and they have decided to respond to government by the end of this week."

Mr Whitaker said the government may have made their decision based on inaccurate reporting in the media and said they were aiming to rectify that.

"What we are doing is giving the government courtesy of hearing the information from us directly rather than through the media," he said.

Mr Whitaker would not reveal exactly what would be in the letter to government but said JPPL was still fully committed to the development of the port.

"JPPL are still very determined to fulfil our contract with the port in accordance with the contract with government," he said.

JPPL had planned to begin construction of the port on January 2, 2013, with the port to be fully operational in the middle of 2014.

"We are still committed to those timelines but that was dependent on the government issuing us, under the contract, the lease on the seabed," he said.

"That hasn't happened yet, so the clock is ticking away and it is eating away at the timeline but it isn't to the point where we are reviewing those timelines.

"We are now four months on since we have given them the 18 months notice before we begin construction, so it is beginning to cut into the timeline."

Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) president Rob Gillam said the State Government would be going back on a promise if they didn't allow the port to be built.

"We are talking about going right back to the days of the Richard Court Government and we were promised there would be another port development in the metropolitan region," Mr Gillam said.

"We have had the Court Government and then we had Labor Governments with Alan Carpenter and Geoff Gallop and there have been delays and procrastinations and all sorts of reasons why the developers couldn't go ahead.

"We were promised by this current government it would go ahead and we still can't get it to go ahead."

Mr Gillam said he didn't want to get involved in the arguments between building magnate Len Buckeridge and Mr Barnett.

"All I know is the people who are going to suffer in all of this are the primary producers of WA," he said.

"The Fremantle port is rapidly approaching its capacity and we have a live export industry which is particularly important to the rural industries of WA for both cattle and sheep.

"It is the biggest sheep exporting port in Australia and it's the second biggest cattle exporting port in Australia and we need to have continued access to port facilities.

"We believe it would be in the best interests of all concerned to move the livestock shipments out of Fremantle's inner harbour and to an outer harbour somewhere but unfortunately the games which are going on now, it doesn't look as though there is an end date in place."

Mr Gillam said the PGA wanted to see a port development made.

"It is not only for livestock but for a lot of grain as well and it will also bring a lot of competition into the market," he said.

"Farmers are expected to meet competition all around the world as far as the trade is concerned and one of the things we have to be able to do is make sure when we are looking at shipping our goods we also have the world's best prices available to us due to competition."

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